Japanese Archbishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Tokyo has been named new secretary general of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences.
The FABC is an association of Catholic episcopal conferences in South, Southeast, East and Central Asia and fosters solidarity and joint responsibility for the welfare of the Church and of society in the region.
The Japanese prelate replaced Bishop Stephen Lee Bun-Sang of Macau following the latter’s resignation from the post beginning July.
Last week, the archbishop issued an appeal to athletes and to visitors during the 2021 Olympic Games in Japan not to visit churches to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease
Archbishop Kikuchi said that due to the prevailing pandemic, visitors, including athletes, “will be asked to refrain from visiting churches.”
The prelate admitted that his archdiocese has been preparing to take care of the spiritual needs of visitors during the games but “decided to cancel all these plans.”
“There will be no special involvement on our part in the Olympics and Paralympics,” said the archbishop.
He also asked parishes to “take care of the spiritual needs of those who come to Japan. But in today’s situation, the priority remains not to transmit the disease.”
“With the declaration of a state of emergency, events are expected to take place without the presence of the public,” said Archbishop Kikuchi.
“At the same time, however, the aggregation of athletes and their staff from all over the world raises concerns about a possible further increase in the number of cases of coronavirus infection,” he added.
He said that the Archdiocese of Tokyo has made a commitment not to get infected and not to allow others to be infected.
“This is why we have taken numerous preventive measures and have scrupulously assumed the responsibility of protecting each other to avoid the spread of the infection, protecting not only our own lives, but also those of others,” said the prelate.
With the statement of emergency, the prelate said they will continue “to carry out the activities of our Church by implementing the preventive measures as we have done so far.”
He also said that the local Church is “not considering the idea of making the fact of being vaccinated or not a criterion for allowing participation in the Mass.”
“Let us remember that it is an important duty for us to protect not only our own lives but also those of all those who have received the gift of life from God,” said Archbishop Kikuchi.
The prelate was regional president of Caritas Asia from 2011 to 2019. He was also a member of FABC’s Office of Human Development.
He was born on Nov. 1, 1958, and is a professed member of the Divine Word Missionaries congregation. He was ordained to the priesthood on March 15, 1986.
As a missionary, he served in the missions in Ghana in Western Africa and served in Koforidua as a pastor before being elected as the provincial superior for his order in 1999 back in Japan.
Pope John Paul II appointed him as the Bishop of Niigata on April 29, 2004. Pope Francis appointed him Archbishop of Tokyo on Oct. 25, 2017.